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Art and literature

The most celebrated literary form in the UAE is Nabati poetry. Local poets compose their lyrical verses in the spoken dialect. Poetry has become pre-eminent probably because the spoken word has always been the superior art form of these tribal people, who usually lacked the raw materials used elsewhere for more tangible forms of artistic expression and focused more on the oral tradition than on writing as a cultural practice. The topics of local poetry vary from praise of local leaders to odes of romantic love.

There are several literary festivals and competitions in the UAE, including the prestigious Arabic Booker Award, a local branch of the British Booker Prize (known as the International Prize for Arabic Fiction), which has become an established event since 2008 and grants large cash prizes every year to the best fiction works by Arab novelists from across the world. Also important, and older, is the Sultan al-Owais Prize, named after an Emirati philanthropist and businessman; it has been given in several categories, including poetry and literary criticism, since the mid-1980s. Art galleries and, to a lesser extent, art production are becoming more popular.

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